How to Practice Peacemaking
Have you ever experienced conflict in life? The more obvious question may be, “who hasn’t experienced conflict in life?” Of course, we’ve all found ourselves at a place in life, whether it was at work, at home, in our marriage, or with neighbors, where we faced some level of conflict. And truthfully, that can be a very unsettling and troubling.
In the beginning of His sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, Jesus offers some vital instruction for how to live a blessed life. He outlines a number of important characteristics, often referred to as beatitudes, that when present in our lives, will lead to a blessed life. We’ve spent the last several weeks at Watermark Church unpacking those characteristics, one of which is becoming a peacemaker.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
Are you a peacemaker? What does it mean to be a peacemaker? We like the idea of experiencing peace, don’t we? After all, I don’t think anyone would honestly say, “I enjoy conflict.” Jesus calls us to pursue peace in relationships, including our relationship with God. The author of Hebrews tells us: 14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14
Peacemaking is not an option for Christ-followers. It’s not something that we casually pursue. It’s something that we are called to pursue… to make every effort to live at peace with everyone. Not some effort, not a little effort, not just the effort we decide to exert; but we’re to make every effort to live at peace with everyone. Not just the ones we want to be at peace with either, but everyone.
Let’s face it, sometimes we don’t make every effort. We hold back for whatever reason. Sometimes our pride gets in the way; we don’t want to capitulate or seem weak. Other times it might be an unwillingness to deal with conflict; it may seem easier to ignore conflict. Sometimes stubbornness or obstinance keeps us from making the effort; we may not want to admit our part in the conflict. Or maybe it’s just plain laziness; pursuing peace takes energy; it takes effort.
There’s good news for peacemakers. The Bible teaches that peacemakers experience much more joy in life! 20 …those who promote peace have joy. Proverbs 12:20. Joy is a wonderful side effect of peace in our lives. And the inverse is also true, turmoil and conflict lead to despair.
So how can we pursue peace in our lives? Be a peacemaker! In his book, Momentum, pastor and author Colin S. Smith offers some biblical insights about being a peacemaker. I appreciate what he had to say and I picked up some ideas in my study. Let’s look at Seven Practices of Peacemakers. This is a quick summary, so for much more, please listen to the full message online.
1) Courageously face a problem when it is appears. (Jeremiah 6:14)
Here’s the truth, peacemaking is not avoiding a problem; it’s honestly and courageously addressing the problem before it gets worse. You may already know the dangers of letting a problem go too long. If you know there is a problem, don’t let it linger. Think about how God made peace with you. He made you aware of a problem - your sin problem - and the need to make peace with Him through Christ. Follow His lead; recognize when there is a problem and courageously face it.
2) Deal with conflict early. (Proverbs 17:14)
The wise author of Proverbs paints a vivid picture of the beginning of strife. In every relationship that comes to a sad ending, there was a moment when the dam was breached in the relationship. It is in that moment that the breach must be dealt with or the relationship is at risk of breaking down completely. That breach may even go unnoticed at first, starting with the first harsh word, or the first moment of distrust; but that first breach is the beginning of the end, if it is not dealt with early on.
3) Practice restraint by taming the tongue! (James 3:9-10)
We live in a world that encourages us to express ourselves; to tell everyone what’s on our minds, no matter the consequences. But peacemakers value restraint; they tame the tongue before it causes conflict. To be clear, courageously and honestly facing a problem does not involve letting another person “have it.” A peacemaker practices restraint, with the strength of the Holy Spirit at work in them. (James 1:19)
4) Prepare for the long haul. (1 Peter 3:11)
The Apostle Peter instructs us to seek peace and pursue peace. Seeking implies that peace may not always be easy to find. Pursuing peace reminds us that sometimes peace may be in the distance, not right in front of us. Peace may not happen immediately when the problem is deep rooted; it can take some time so prepare for the long haul. Don’t be discouraged when peace is slow in developing. Give it time and continue to pursue it.
5) Take the first step toward peace. (Romans 12:20)
The Apostle Paul writes about relating to an enemy, or a person with whom you’re experiencing hostility. That person may not be interested in making peace with you, so what can you do? Paul says, take a step toward that person to meet a need. Reach out to them in some way with a kind gesture. Now that takes some effort because you may not have any feelings of kindness toward them at that moment. But I’ve heard it said that feelings follow actions; in other words, kind, loving gestures can stimulate feelings of kindness and love. Peace starts with that first step. Peacemakers are willing to take that step.
6) Aim at humility, not humiliation. (Philippians 2:8)
God’s peace with us did not come by a show of power, but by a remarkable show of love and humility. Christ is the ultimate model of humility for us. Peacemaking always calls for humility. When God made peace with us, He came to us in Jesus Christ, choosing to make Himself known, not by strength and power, but by vulnerability and humility. Isn’t that what drew you to Christ? And when you came to Him, acknowledging your sin and failure, He didn’t rub your nose in it, but mercifully and graciously forgave you. That’s what peacemakers do.
7) Give the injustice you’ve suffered to God. (1 Peter 2:19-24)
How can you respond to being slighted, passed over, treated unfairly, wronged? We’ve all been there. When you suffer unjustly, remember that Christ has too. Yet He endured those injustices and evils as an example for us to follow. When Christ bore our sins, He absorbed them without retaliation or threat. Thank God for that. At the same time, He modeled peacemaking. When we are wrong and retaliate, we only escalate the conflict by provoking a response. The way to end escalation is for someone to absorb the pain, saying “It stops here.” This is what Jesus, the ultimate peacemaker, did for us. Vindication or vengeance does not lie with us. That is in God’s hands. So leave that to Him. Commit to follow the example Christ set for us. Give the injustice you suffered to God.
For much more, please click link to listen to the entire message and other messages in the series, The Blessed Life: A Journey Through the Beatitudes.